Spending Time Building Relationships With My Congressional Members

There is so much I am still learning about being an advocate even though I have been one for ten plus years. My first trip to D.C. to meet with my congressional members will always be one I will treasure. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Each time I go it is always these same two emotions. In a couple of weeks, I will be making my fourth trip to Capitol Hill with the National Psoriasis Foundation.

While I was confident last year, I must admit the nervousness is starting to rise. One of the congressional members in my state is none other than Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. For the past three years I have spoken to the same person in his office that is over healthcare policies.

Nurturing the relationship

It takes time to develop those relationships with a staff member. Every time the National Psoriasis Foundation has asked for us to send an email to our Congressional Members, I have always done it. I have also taken the time just to send emails of my own detailing any issues I may be having when it comes to my health. My advocacy doesn’t stop with volunteering with the NPF; I also volunteer with other organizations as well.

Even though they may be asking me to send a similar email as the NPF I still go ahead and send it. It keeps the proverbial door open and keeps reminding the staff member of my name. That was never more evident than meeting him last year. I was with 2 ladies from Florida and 1 gentleman that works for the NPF. The health policy person comes into the room shakes hands with each of them and turns to look at me. He said I know you and called me by name.

Tips for emailing a staffer

First, even if you are sending an email for an organization make sure to start it by saying you are a constituent from their district. It carries a lot of weight and gets their attention. They want to know what their constituents are concerned about. Second, make sure to put your personal story into the email. Detail why what you are asking for is so important to you. Tie it back in to your journey. Third, if you know how many people in your state that can be affected by what you are asking that adds more weight to your email as well. For example, in Louisiana, I can state that helping curtail step therapy would affect at least 300,000 people living with psoriasis. Of course, the larger the population in a state the more powerful that number will be when that staffer reads the email.

Start building the relationship

Hopefully what I have listed will help anyone wanting to build a relationship with their Congressional Member’s office. For me, I am starting over building that relationship in the Member’s office because the health staffer is no longer there. When Speaker Johnson was elected to be Speaker of the House most of his staff members were changed. I guess that comes along with being in a higher position. I will be meeting a new healthcare policy staffer when I go to D.C. so once again it will be a nervous time for me. It will also be an exciting time to see what Speaker Johnson’s office looks like with him being Speaker of the House now.

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